USA, NEW YORK, HARLEM
Kanaiah Nicole - Artist Statement
My weapon of choice in this pandemic? A Nikon D7100. Illustrating untold stories of resilience,
courage, and ingenuity during a newly etched part of history. Though I’d be lying if I said that
being under quarantine wasn’t distressing. Considering the odds of risking my life to document
this unprecedented moment was frustrating. It was difficult to imagine that my home, the city
that never sleeps, had finally taken a nap.
COVID-19 came through New York with a vengeance as neighborhoods soon became
petri-dishes under a microscope. My mailman, neighbors, the supermarkets, and corner stores
all fell victim to the virus. Soon after, I sought out to discover how the pandemic affected my
fellow New Yorkers, and how it changed the city.
Re-evaluating my artistic vision, I tapped into my younger self to observe my environment.
Acquiring a new perspective, with new eyes filled with curiosity and amazement. My photos are
a visual representation of our current struggles, and triumphs. Some photos appear bleak and
gloomy, while others are simple acts of rebellion. Not to mention the photos reminiscent of my
childhood in Harlem during the 1980s.
My Grandmother was born during the deadliest pandemic of the 20th Century. One could only
imagine what her own mother endured bringing her into this world. This is why it’s very
important for me to document this moment in time. I don’t want people to just look back on this
as a time when the world stood still. Although I only broke quarantine a few times, the occasions
proved nothing short of powerful.
The Full Supermoon on May 7th was my first quarantine adventure. Since Morningside Park is
one place that overlooks Harlem, I captured the moon as it broke the horizon. Illuminating the
sky with lights from the surrounding buildings, giving a shimmering light of hope. Attempting to
catch the rare snowfall May 9th was my second adventure in the quarantined streets. Though
excited at first, it was a bust because the snow never hit the ground.
One thing about this particular time is that in the beginning, you hardly saw anyone outside.
Barren streets and no traffic is unheard of in New York City, and it’s still a hard concept to
grasp. Though initially when quarantine started, I discovered a whole new world I took for
granted right on my fire escape.
With all that has happened in this pandemic, I found solitude in my camera. Whenever I
ventured out for essentials, I always kept it handy just in case. Though for an instant, I realized
that we as a city took time for granted, even when it forced us to be still